BHP Billiton enjoys record production

FOR the 2004 financial year BHP Billiton has posted annual production records for iron ore (84.2 million tonnes), manganese ore (5Mt), aluminium (1.3Mt), alumina (4.2Mt), silver (43.7 million ounces), nickel (82,000t) and diamonds (5.5 million carats).

Staff Reporter

During the June quarter the company’s energy coal division produced 21.5Mt, on par with the June 2003 quarter (22Mt) and the March 2004 quarter (21.3Mt).

Production at New Mexico Coal in the United Sates was impacted by two planned dragline outages, but the ramp-up of production at Mount Arthur Coal in Australia partially offset this.

Annual export sales from Ingwe (South Africa) decreased to 39% of total sales compared with 43% in the June 2003 year, reflecting lower export tonnage availability following safety interventions at Koornfontein.

Annual output of energy coal amounted to 83.8Mt, compared with 81.7Mt the previous year.

The metallurgical coal division produced 9.3Mt during the quarter, on par with the same period a year ago of 9Mt, and 9% higher than production for the March 2004 quarter. The company said continued market demand for Queensland Coal product was partially offset by lower production from Illawarra Coal in New South Wales (5.8Mt) that was mainly caused by difficult mining conditions at the West Cliff colliery.

For the full year metallurgical coal output was 35.3Mt, compared with 34.6Mt last year.

In the exploration and development report for the June quarter, BHPB said development of the Dendrobium longwall operation was proceeding as planned with longwall production on target for startup in the middle of 2005. Construction activities associated with the mine surface facilities, ventilation shaft, washery upgrade and Kemira Valley Rail Coal Loading facilities have been completed and successfully commissioned.

The majority of the project’s remaining work is related to the underground drivage required to install and commission the longwall. The company said all mining units have passed through the zone where difficult mining conditions were experienced during the last quarter and are producing at expected rates.